Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018 | Last Update : 04:44 PM IST

Chugging along the snowy alps

THE ASIAN AGE. | BINDU GOPAL RAO
Published : Jul 17, 2018, 12:19 am IST
Updated : Jul 17, 2018, 12:29 am IST

A Swiss holiday can be made more special when you hop onto the stunning Bernina Express that takes you on a picturesque journey.

The views from Muottas Muragl.
 The views from Muottas Muragl.

With its stunning natural landscapes, there is much to see and explore in Switzerland and a great way to see some unique sights is to hop on to the Bernina Express which has large windows that make the journey as exciting as the destination. Incidentally, it has a UNESCO citation for its rail line, and also the most picture perfect countryside through which the train chugs along. The best part is that the train line itself is over a century-old, and the civil engineering and architectural construction has been done in a way that hardly interferes with the stunning natural landscapes here. The Bernina line passes over 52 bridges and through 13 tunnels and cuttings. Here are some places that this memorable train journey takes you to and what you can see there.

The Bernina ExpressThe Bernina Express

Punt Muragl
Get off the train near St Moritz, and take a funicular to Muottas Muragl. This will get you up close with the stunning snowcapped Alps located 2,700 meters above sea level. The 10-odd minute journey to the top is exciting for the steep elevations with a stop when drivers actually change midway between the line going up and coming down. Once you reach the top, soak in the views of the mountains interspersed by the lakes of Upper Engadine which are breathtaking. For a spot of adventure, there are several hiking trails here that can you take you through the beautiful mountains interspersed with wild flowers. Else, simply sink into one of the wooden benches and soak in the sights and sounds of nature. 

Pontresina
Located 1,805 metres above sea level and surrounded by the peaks of the Engadine Piz Palü and Piz Bernina, Pontresina is a quiet mountain village that seems straight out of a history book. With tall pine trees all around, there are many pines you can collect on the walks here too. The quaint railway station here also has the historic Alpine Classic Pullman train plying and a ride on it is memorable. The summer witnesses a music concert in the woods and the season sees 99 concerts in all. Incidentally, this place is known for the large number of Ibex that visit the mountains and graze here, so if you are lucky you can actually spot them too. When you are here you can head to Alp Languard that has chairlifts that will take you up to 2,550 m above sea level. And yes, a hike in the mountains is a must too.

Alp GrumAlp Grum

Alp Grüm
This station is the highest point of the Bernina railway at 2,091 meters above sea level, and offers stunning views of the valley. This is also the place where a short hike takes you to a vantage point from where you can see the train curving up the mountain range. A restaurant situated here is ideal to tuck into local food and wine.

The  Poschavio town square The Poschavio town square

Poschiavo
The beautiful village of Poschavio is known for its beautiful homes, and even more stunning gardens. It has a small town square with historic buildings. Stop by at the beautiful church here, and you can see beautifully coloured stain glass windows too. Have a meal at the centuries-old hotel Albrici that dates back several centuries and is resplendent with heritage furniture as part of its many rooms. A meal here is a must, and the local wines from this region are well known too.

Le Prese
Home to a stunning lake, this is where a cruise with the Sassalbo boat on the Lago di Poschiavo is a must. On prior booking, you are also served small bites and local wines and you can also catch people fishing here. The local hotels also arrange for fishing boats as well and the guest can actually have the fish cooked for their next meal!

Did you know?

There are only three trains that have the UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Among them is the Himalaya Mountain Railway in Darjeeling, the Austrian Semmeringbahn Railway and the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina landscapes in Switzerland. The Albula Line from Thusis to St Moritz and the Bernina Line from St Moritz to Tirano makes the 122 km track that takes you through jaw-dropping landscapes and stunning natural vistas that will add a new dimension to your visit to Switzerland.

Tags: travel news, bernina express, punt muragl